This is not the book I thought it was. This is not the book I thought it was.
Lord, y’all, HOW ARE THERE MORE CHAPTERS BEYOND THIS.
- Oh my god, I really don’t think there could have been a better character to stuff into a crate than Kerensky.
- HOW ARE THEY GOING TO PULL THIS OFF? Honestly, that was the most important concern I had going into these chapters. There were a million things that could go wrong with time travel, but assuming they were able to travel to 2010 and return safely, I still didn’t have the slightest clue how these people would be able to convince their creators to stop creating. How would anyone believe them?
- “Anatoly,” Maia said, more forcefully. “They didn’t get me too.” “What?” Kerensky said. Then, after a minute, “Oh.” BLESS THIS. BLESS.
- There are many – seriously, so many – completely shocking, mind-melting moments from page 154 of this book until the end of chapter twenty-four, and it’s one of the more plot-twisty books I’ve ever read. Like, the casual reveal that THEY ARE AT A BEST WESTERN IN BURBANK MADE ME WANT TO FALL OFF THE EARTH. Oh my god.
- And that’s one of the things that works so well about this book: John Scalzi goes straight for the surreal, and he hangs out there until the end of the book. As soon as the characters’ plan for undoing their inevitable deaths is revealed, it’s… lord, IT’S SO WEIRD. Dahl sought out the actor playing him. Who, by the way, IS AN EXACT PHYSICAL COPY OF HIM. Which… seriously, once you start thinking about time travel, identity, and paradoxes, it hurts your brain. This means Dahl’s physical body was “birthed” entirely because Brian Abnett played Dahl on the show. It’s like instant cloning? It’s also super fucked up.
- “Hello, Brian. I’m you. In red shirt form.” DONE SO DONE AND I HAD SO MUCH MORE TO READ.
- Seriously, I think that the fact that Scalzi makes this so weird is why I find it so charming. Brian Abnett meets the fictionalized character he plays. That sentence alone is ridiculous, and yet this book makes it a reality.
- “What’s Comic-Con?” Kerensky, dude, I don’t even know how anyone is going to describe this to you. Can I add another layer? This made me realize that there are probably people who cosplay Kerensky, who is played by Marc Corey, and that’s like an Inception level of identities that my mind refuses to deal with. Are the people cosplay Kerensky cosplaying the actual Kerensky or Marc Corey as Kerensky? HELP MY POOR BRAIN.
- I wasn’t surprised that Marc Corey reacted poorly to Kerensky because… well, shit, I was a bit shocked that Brian didn’t react more violently. This book is making me paranoid about writing fiction, y’all.
- I also admit that I totally thought Marc Corey and Kerensky had sex. I have read far too many fics to think anything else. So you can blame fanfiction for this.
- Also not surprising: Paulson’s reaction to the characters. Totally surprising: HESTER IS ACTUALLY PAULSON’S SON. Oh my god.
- Honestly, I think the best part of this entire book is the sequence where Paulson explains everything to the head writer, Nick Weinstein, and this book is simultaneously meta, brain-breaking, brilliant, and quite emotional. Again, Redshirts does work as a criticism of shoddy and lazy writing on science fiction shows, but I’m happy that it is not solely about that. It’s about writing in general, about what we can do as writers to take ourselves and our characters to unexpected and uncomfortable places. And then we have the entire scene between Dahl and Martinez to inject one massive punch in the emotions. HOLY SHIT, Dahl, you are incredible. What a bizarre and touching scene. Bravo, Scalzi.
- And then Scalzi has one more card up his sleeve. (Well, so far. There are three codas left, and I’m kind of scared about what they are.) He turns the book into a narrative of… itself? Because Dahl is sort of self-aware of the fact that he’s the main character in another story, that this whole scenario is fictionalized, and now I can’t help but imagine that every character ever created is off in some parallel universe, hope that they’re never touched again so they can keep continuing their lives.
- Honestly, I was worried for a bit when I got to chapter nine that Redshirts would be nothing but a gimmick, and I’m happy to report it’s not. It’s a blast, it’s entertaining, and I cared what happened. Yes, it hurt my brain, but it’s nice to read a book that could have stuck with the framing device for the whole story. Instead, Scalzi elevated it to something entirely different. And weird. And my brain hurts.
- WHAT ELSE IS THIS BOOK GOING TO DO.
I’ll post one more review in the next couple days to cover the codas! There are videos for codas two and three. Here’s the video for these chapters! Thanks, Mary!
Mark Links Stuff
- I am now on tour!!! I have 26 events spread out across the eastern HALF of the U.S. and Canada. They are all free and all-ages. Come see speak about the Mark Does Stuff Universe and read terrible fanfiction live!
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Commissions are still open while I am on tour! There may be a day or two delay to get them done, but I am accepting them graciously to help fund my tour!
- Nominate me for a Hugo award in fan writer or Dramatic Presentation – Short Form!